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ESSENTIAL MINERALS AND HEALTH

Your body uses minerals for a variety of important jobs—from making red blood cells, to building bones, to supporting metabolism. They’re considered essential because your body needs the minerals to stay healthy, but it cannot make enough of them on its own.1

TYPES OF ESSENTIAL MINERALS
There are two types of essential minerals: major and trace minerals. Both types are equally important for health, but major minerals are present in larger quantities in your body than trace minerals.1 Find out what role minerals play and where to find good sources of them below.

 

MAJOR MINERALS

 
Mineral Role in Body   Good Dietary Sources
 
Calcium2 Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body. Around 99 percent of calcium is stored in your bones and teeth, where it supports their structure and function. The remaining one percent is used to support metabolic functions.   Milk, yogurt, cheese, paneer, broccoli, chickpeas and fish with soft bones that you eat
 
Chloride3 Chloride helps your body maintain the proper balance of water and digest food.   Salt (sodium chloride), tomatoes, lettuce and pickles
 
Magnesium4 Magnesium helps manage muscle and nerve function, control blood glucose levels, regulate blood pressure, and make DNA, protein and bones.   Legumes, seeds, nuts, whole grains, fortified cereal, milk, yogurt and green, leafy vegetables like spinach
 
Phosphorus5 As the second most abundant mineral in the body, phosphorus works with calcium to help build strong bones and teeth. It also plays an important role in energy metabolism, helps filter out waste in the kidneys, and promotes the growth, maintenance and repair of all tissues and cells.   Milk, dried fruit, whole grains and protein-rich foods, such as meat, poultry, eggs, fish, nuts and legumes
 
Potassium6 Potassium helps your nerves and muscles communicate, moves nutrients into cells and waste products out of them, and helps regulate blood pressure.   Some fruits, such as blackberries, grapes, oranges, grapefruit and bananas; leafy greens like spinach; and root vegetables, such as carrots and potatoes
 
Sodium7 You need some sodium to balance the fluids in your body, control your blood pressure and blood volume, and help your muscles and nerves work properly. However, many people get more sodium than they need, and too much sodium can increase blood pressure, which raises the risk of heart disease and stroke.   Table salt (sodium chloride), cheese, salted nuts, and many processed foods, such as bread, cereal, pickles and sauces
 
Sulfur8 Sulfur helps make the body’s connective tissues, including tendons, ligaments and cartilage.   Meat, fish, poultry, eggs, legumes, garlic, onions and asparagus

 

TRACE MINERALS
 
Mineral Role in Body   Good Dietary Sources
 
Chromium9 Chromium helps turn fat, protein and carbohydrates into energy, and plays a role in breaking down insulin.   Whole grains, oatmeal, mushrooms, broccoli, potatoes, garlic, basil and grape juice
 
Copper10 Copper helps form red blood cells and keep the immune system, blood vessels, nerves and bones healthy.   Shellfish, organ meats like liver, whole grains, nuts, beans, potatoes, dried fruit and dark, leafy green vegetables
 
Fluoride11 Fluoride helps reduce tooth decay and maintain bone structure.   Fluoridated water, tea and most seafood
 
Iodine12 Your body needs iodine to make thyroid hormones that control metabolism and help with brain and bone development during pregnancy and infancy.   Iodized salt, seafood, milk, yogurt, cheese, eggs, bread, cereal and some fruits and vegetables, but the amount of iodine they contain depends on the soil and fertilizer used to grow them
 
Iron13 Iron helps make many proteins, including hemoglobin, a protein that carries oxygen to your tissues, and myoglobin, which brings oxygen to your muscles. Your body also uses iron for growth and development, and to make some connective tissue and hormones.   Lean meat, seafood and poultry; iron-fortified bread and cereal; legumes, such as lentils, white beans, kidney beans and peas; nuts and some dried fruits like raisins
 
Manganese14 Manganese plays a role in connective tissue and bone formation, calcium absorption, fat and carbohydrate metabolism, blood sugar control, and normal brain and nerve function.   Whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes and pineapple
 
Molybdenum1 Molybdenum helps make several enzymes your body needs.   Nuts, legumes, grains and milk
 
Selenium15 Selenium plays a critical role in DNA production, thyroid hormone metabolism, reproduction and protecting the body from damage caused by infection or free radicals.   Seafood, meat, poultry, eggs, bread, cereal and dairy products
 
Zinc16 The body needs zinc during pregnancy, infancy and childhood to promote growth and development. Zinc also helps make proteins and DNA, heal wounds, boost the immune system to fight off infections, and support taste and smell.   Oysters, crab, lobster, red meat, poultry, nuts, whole grains, beans and fortified cereal

MINERAL DEFICIENCIES
Eating a balanced diet usually provides all the essential minerals you need. However, billions of people worldwide live with vitamin and mineral deficiencies that can make supplementation necessary.17

In India, 74 percent of the population suffers from iron deficiency anemia.18 Indians are also prone to iodine deficiency because of the deficiency of iodine in the soil where the food grows.19

Talk to your doctor about ways to incorporate more essential minerals into your diet and whether a supplement may be right for you.

 

1. Harvard Medical School. Harvard Health Publications. The Truth About Vitamins and Minerals: Choosing the Nutrients You Need to Stay Healthy. 2012.
2. National Institutes of Health. Office of Dietary Supplements. Calcium: Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet. http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Calcium-Consumer/ and http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Calcium-HealthProfessional/. Accessed August 25, 2014.
3. National Institutes of Health. MedlinePlus. Chloride in Diet. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002417.htm. Accessed August 28, 2014.
4. National Institutes of Health. Office of Dietary Supplements. Magnesium: Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet. http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Magnesium-Consumer/. Accessed August 25, 2014.
5. University of Maryland Medical Center. Medical Reference Guide. Phosphorus. https://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/phosphorus. Accessed August 25, 2014.
6. National Institutes of Health. MedlinePlus. Potassium. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/potassium.html. Accessed August 25, 2014.
7. National Health Service. Salt: The Facts. http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Goodfood/Pages/salt.aspx. Accessed August 26, 2014.
8. University of Maryland Medical Center. Medical Reference Guide. Sulfur. http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/sulfur. Accessed August 26, 2014.
9. National Institutes of Health. Office of Dietary Supplements. Chromium: Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet. http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Chromium-HealthProfessional/. Accessed August 27, 2014.
10. National Institutes of Health. MedlinePlus. Copper in Diet. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002419.htm. Accessed August 26, 2014.
11. National Institutes of Health. MedlinePlus. Fluoride in Diet. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002420.htm. Accessed August 26, 2014.
12. National Institutes of Health. Office of Dietary Supplements. Iodine: Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet. http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Iodine-HealthProfessional/ and http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Iodine-Consumer/. Accessed August 25, 2014.
13. National Institutes of Health. Office of Dietary Supplements. Iron: Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet. http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Iron-HealthProfessional/ and http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Iron-Consumer/. Accessed August 26, 2014.
14. University of Maryland Medical Center. Medical Reference Guide. Manganese. https://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/manganese. Accessed August 26, 2014.
15. National Institutes of Health. Office of Dietary Supplements. Selenium: Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet. http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Selenium-Consumer/ and http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Selenium-HealthProfessional/. Accessed August 25, 2014.
16. National Institutes of Health. Office of Dietary Supplements. Zinc: Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet. http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Zinc-Consumer/ and http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Zinc-HealthProfessional/. Accessed August 25, 2014.
17. A United Call to Action. Investing in the future. A united call to action on vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Global Report Summary, 2009. http://www.unitedcalltoaction.org/documents/Investing_in_the_future_Summary.pdf. Accessed August 27, 2014.
18. Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. Government of India. Guidelines for Control of Iron Deficiency Anaemia. National Iron+ Initiative. http://www.unicef.org/india/10._National_Iron_Plus_Initiative_Guidelines_for_Control_of_IDA.pdf. Accessed August 27, 2014.
19. Indian Journal of Medical Research. Iodine deficiency disorders (IDD) in India. Sep 2013; 138(3): 418–433. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3818611/. Accessed August 27, 2014.

Information provided is for general background purposes and is not intended as a substitute for medical diagnosis or treatment by a trained professional. You should always consult your physician about any healthcare questions you may have, especially before trying a new medication, diet, fitness program, or approach to healthcare issues.
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